How to Succeed in Your First Job

How to Set Career Goals (and Meet Them)

Sponsored by, Accenture

When you’re just starting out in your career, thinking five or 10 years ahead might seem overwhelming. After all, how can you determine where you want to go when you’re only just beginning? But setting goals is actually a great way to get past the nerves that comes with a new start and doing so will give you direction that will help guide you throughout your career.

Here’s a step-by-step process on how to set goals, and meet them.

Determine a specific career goal

When coming up with career goals, it’s okay to think about the big picture. In fact,  acknowledging your potential is a great way to shape your future success. But the best way to set achievable goals is by narrowing your focus. Take some time to think about what you’d like to do in the long term and then come up with a specific career goal that you can achieve within one to two years. For example, if you’re currently an account executive on a sales team and you’d like to manage the team someday, your specific goal might be to become a relationship manager within one year. Having that goal will give you clear direction in your career path while setting you up for success as a manager down the road.

Outline the steps you’ll need to take to get there

Once you’ve determined your goal, it’s time to come up with a plan that will help you achieve it. This includes knowing what skills and experience you’ll need in order to get to the next phase in your career, and also understanding the typical path involved in getting there. Going back to the sales example, if you know that becoming a relationship manager will require you to improve your communication skills, then one of the steps in your plan should be to sit in on more client calls and meetings in order to sharpen these skills and determine the best approach to take in any give situation.

Ask for advice from your manager or mentor

A great way to fine tune your plan, and to ensure that you’re taking all of the necessary steps you need to succeed, is by asking for advice from your manager or mentor. Don’t be afraid to tell them about your career goals — after all, part of their job is to ensure that you’re continuously growing and learning — but do come prepared with a clear plan of action. This will help them understand your goals and give you effective feedback on what you can do to achieve them.

Set yourself up for success

Once you’ve incorporated your manager’s feedback and solidified your plan, it’s time to focus on some other things you can do to ensure your success. These includes coming up with an effective daily routine, managing your time well and staying organized. Done well, these things will make you efficient in your current role while also showing your manager that you have the ability and the desire to move forward.

By knowing how to set career goals and coming up with a plan to achieve them, you’ll be able to shape your career path and end up in your dream job sooner than you think.

Next, get more career tips for internships and entry-level jobs such as 6 Ways to Impress Your Boss and find answers to common interview questions such as What Are Your Strengths?